Despite a prolonged bear market for cryptocurrencies, the outlook for blockchain remains bright. The global blockchain sector is forecast for significant growth over the next three years, and there’s a growing pool of developers particularly in countries considered as blockchain hubs, such as Switzerland or Malta.
However, decentralized application (dapp) development and adoption aren’t taking off in the same way that the ICO boom of 2017 seemed to promise. According to the Dapp Radar rankings website, even the best-used dapp has around 9,000 daily users.
In contrast, the Fortnite game reached 10.7 million concurrent players in February. Bitcoin transactions peaked at 490,000 in a single day during the height of the December 2017 price boom. With gaps this big, it’s clear that dapps have some way to go before mainstream adoption is in sight.
Adoption isn’t just a matter of acquiring users, though. There needs to be a compelling reason to use a dapp. Creating this reason is the role of dapp developers, but even if a developer has a solid idea for a dapp, getting it live and running smoothly isn’t necessarily easy.
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The Choice of Blockchain Platform and Why It Matters
Since Ethereum launched in 2015, it’s been the dapp platform of choice for many projects. It made smart contracts accessible to developers. Thanks to the way the network operates, developers can bring a product to market relatively cheaply, because network transaction costs are funded by the user in the form of gas payments.
On the flip side, launching a dapp on Ethereum comes with challenges. While the setup may be easy, Ethereum has struggled with scalability, which can slow the user experience. The craze for Cryptokitties managed to stall the Ethereum network back in December 2017. Latency issues are likely to be deterring users, explaining why EOS dapps now have more daily users than Ethereum dapps.
For apps requiring a higher throughput of transactions without interrupting user experience, EOS offers an attractive alternative. EOS was designed by Block.One with scalability in mind, operating at transaction speeds thousands of times faster than Ethereum. It also offers many other features designed to make dapp development easier, like user authentication functionality baked in.
However, bringing an app to market on EOS can be costly. Whereas Ethereum puts the network running costs on the user, on EOS it’s the developer who’s required to pay for the network resources at the start. One of these resources is RAM, which is state storage on the blockchain. RAM has a variable cost driven by supply and demand. Unfortunately for developers, when demand is high, the price of RAM can be prohibitively expensive.
There are other blockchain networks, but many of them are still relatively new and/or only running very few dapps.
Making RAM More Accessible
Of course, the Ethereum team is always working on scalability solutions. However, while that goes on, dapp developers may soon find that launching an app on EOS is within easier reach, thanks to a company called LiquidApps. LiquidApps aims to give developers access to extra storage capacity, secure communication services and other critical utilities that could make the development of dapps substantially easier and more affordable.
LiquidApps is launching the DAPP Network, which serves as the ecosystem, and which is powered by the DAPP token. The DAPP token is used by developers to pay for the utilities within the DAPP Network. Given the main hurdle for EOS developers is the cost of RAM, then the first use case of the DAPP Network will be vRAM.
vRAM is compatible with EOS RAM. Developers wanting to build on EOS can purchase vRAM from within the DAPP Network from a Dapp Service Provider (DSP). A DSP is a person or entity operating a node on the network, which provides vRAM resources and an API service for submitting transactions to EOS.
A DSP has total autonomy over the resources they provide and decides how to charge for them on a free market basis. Anyone can apply to become a DSP, providing they meet the minimum criteria for operating an EOS node.
Using this model, LiquidApps is aiming for vRAM to enable storage and retrieval of potentially unlimited amounts of data affordably and efficiently. The vRAM solution is effectively decentralizing the sourcing of computing power as a scarce asset, bringing liquidity to dapp development.
The Future of Dapp Development?
The company also has a second product, called Zeus, which is a software development kit (SDK) for dapp developers. This is designed to make it easy for developers to create and launch dapps. Developers using Zeus will also have access to other LiquidApps products on the DAPP Network, as further functionality is rolled out.
LiquidApps has designed the DAPP Network to be blockchain-agnostic. While EOS is the first blockchain to benefit from its products, the company foresees that LiquidApps has the potential to operate with multiple blockchains in future.
Even before that happens, vRAM has the potential to be a game-changer for dapp developers all by itself. If access to network resources is one of the main issues impeding developers from building on EOS, then vRAM could remove the last excuse. Given that it’s already leading on user numbers, it could only be a matter of time before EOS becomes the development platform of choice for dapps.